Better Touch Tool & MacOS TouchBar

The TouchBar is a controversial piece of hardware, often thought to add expense to the Macbooks that it lives on without providing much benefit. I would argue that having TouchID on a Macbook alone is a great benefit - although we might expect it to be replaced with FaceID at some point in the future!

For a long time I have used BetterSnapTool (now BetterTouchTool) to do some window management (mainly snap areas) on my Mac, but I had never explored the TouchBar customisation features built into BetterTouchTool. That was until a couple of weeks ago when a friend, Max, showed me just how much you can customise the TouchBar; just how much different information you can put in it! And now I love it.

My TouchBar

BetterTouchTool

BetterTouchTool offers a wide variety of MacOS system enhancements from gestures, to TouchBar customisation and keyboard shortcuts. You can get a 45 day free trial, buy a standard license for $7.50USD or a lifetime license for $21 USD. The standard license is definitely worth it! Alternatively, if you have a SetApp subscription, it is available through there.

Customising the TouchBar

To get to the TouchBar customisation page, click on the menubar icon for BetterTouchTool and then “Configuration”. Select Touch Bar from the dropdown and you should enter a screen that looks like an empty version of this:

BetterTouchTool TouchBar Configuration

Here you can add groups and top level triggers and assign actions to them, customise their appearance, order and a huge variety of options.

Getting Started with my Presets

If you would like to download my presets, please click here! To import my presets, simply click the “Preset: Default” button in the top right and import the .bttpreset file.

The 🏔 Button

This button simply opens two URLs that I very frequently use to plan outdoor trips.

  1. http://www.topomap.co.nz/ so I can plan/view the route
  2. A Google Sheet of trip ideas & plans

The Calendar Widget

I am a High School Science and Physics teacher and as you might expect, my life runs through my calendar! This widget shows me only my next upcoming event. This is super useful for when I am in class and want to see at a glance what I am teaching next, what time the period starts and what room the class is in.

Tapping the widget opens the Calendar app. Again, a super useful shortcut.

The Weather Widget

As my sidebar bio says: would really rather be outside, outdoors is a super important part of my life. I like to know the weather, sunrise and sunset so that I can have an idea of the activities that I know what I can get up to after work, be it a walk, bike ride, run or kayak!

Tapping on the weather widget opens two URLs:

  1. MetService two-day forecast for my city (NZ’s main weather provider)
  2. MetVuw 10 day forecast for the whole South Island of NZ. This weather service is a great long term forecast and rain map and is super useful for trip planning!

The Music Widget

This is the default weather widget that BetterTouchTool provides. I really like to be able to see what music is playing and be able to pause/play it by tapping on the button.

Brightness & Volume Sliders

These are simple sliders provided by BetterTouchTool to control the volume and brightness of my Mac. This simply replicates the functionality of the built-in TouchBar interface.

The 🔒 Button

This button is mapped to the keyboard combination Command + Control + Q. This button combination locks the screen (the same as “Lock Screen” under the Apple menu button on your Mac). This is really useful for me to lock the screen when in and around school so I can quickly keep students (and other teachers) out of my laptop.

I definitely think you should download BetterTouchTool and give it a go! Customise to your hearts content and see how much use you can get out of your TouchBar!

References

  1. BetterTouchTool: https://folivora.ai/
  2. My BetterTouchTool Presets: Download
  3. New Zealand TopoMap: http://www.topomap.co.nz/
  4. Christchurch two-day forecast: https://www.metservice.com/towns-cities/locations/christchurch#!/two-day
  5. New Zealand South Island 10 day forecast: http://metvuw.com/forecast/forecast.php?type=rain&region=nzsi&noofdays=10